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Archive for March, 2010

Ana

Posted by garudabird on March 3, 2010

Our newest rescue

Meet Ana.  She’s the newest member of the flock here at Garuda Aviary. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the problems faced by parrots in captivity, her appearance is shocking. To those of us involved in parrot rescue, her story is unfortunately far too common. She doesn’t have a disease.  She’s a healthy 28 year old blue & gold macaw. Her appearance is due to extreme feather plucking, a problem common to domesticated parrots. Feather plucking usually occurs when a parrot experiences unfit living conditions, unmanageable stress and trauma.
To illustrate how something like this happens, I’d like you to read a few excerpts from the request we received to take her in.

“In June, one of my board members called me and begged me to take the macaw of a friend who had just died.”

This is unfortunately common. The lifespan of a healthy macaw is 50 years minimum. Many live past 80 years. In most cases, you cannot buy a macaw and expect to outlive it. Parrots bond intensely with their owners. The owner’s death is a terrible trauma.

“When I arrived to pick her up, I was speechless.  This 28 year old prisoner, with no feathers on her body and only one sickly looking tail feather, had lived her entire life in a horrid 2′ X 2′ cage, with a diet that consisted of sunflower seeds and Planter’s salted peanuts.  She had been purchased as a “decoration” for an orthodontist’s office, and when the inevitable happened – she became aggressive and loud – they brought her to their million dollar home in a country club community in North Canton, Ohio, and stuck her in a corner.  They fed her by opening a small side door of the cage and sticking a long handled spoon with food on it inside. Of course she was very cage aggressive, and I was immediately terrified.”

Despite her misgivings, she felt compelled to remove this poor thing from it’s unfit environment. She did her very best to care for Ana…

“It became very quickly obvious that I could not take this bird to Virginia.  She will never get the kind of attention she deserves, and quite frankly, her presence in our lives is ruining my marriage.  She hates my husband, who has been more than patient with her.  She is quiet all week, but when he arrives from VA on the weekends, she screams at him and nothing we do makes any difference. And since I am still a little afraid of her, she never gets the love and attention she needs. Her cage door is always open, and she can go anywhere she likes in our home, but she chases the dogs, cats, and rabbits, and I just don’t trust her.  So she ends up isolated more often than she deserves out of pure preservation of the other critters who live with us.”

I hear this kind of thing far too often, even from people who purposefully set out to own a macaw. A blue & gold macaw can exert over 300 pounds per square inch of bite force. And parrots are usually extremely territorial, jealous and defensive. When someone buys and bonds with a parrot, it is very unlikely the bird will accept other people or pets in the home. Very likely the parrot will see other members of the household as a threat to its relationship with its person.

Now Ana lives with us at Garuda Aviary because she has no hope of being a good pet in a normal home. Rehabilitation for Ana will be learning how to live with her own kind. Living in a flock is the healthiest life for a parrot, but she has a long way to go. Ana has never lived with other macaws. Socialization will be a long and sometimes difficult process.

I wish I could say that some day she’ll look normal, but I can’t. Ana has had a long time to ingrain the habit of feather plucking as a coping mechanism for her trauma and neglect. Her need to pluck will decrease in this environment, but many of her feather follicles don’t work anymore due to years of plucking.

I’m more concerned with her emotional and physical health than her appearance. Health and happiness is my highest priority for Ana.

Christopher “Rigdzen” Zeoli
Garuda Aviary caretaker

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